On Sunday drives some 40 years ago, our family would travel up and down Des Plaines Avenue, which cut through Jewish Waldheim Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois. It often took quite a while because of the traffic. Children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the people buried there remembered the sites and the people they honored. Jews are known for their respect for the dead and have stipulated rituals for showing it.
Today the traveler is not likely to find many autos or living human beings in those cemeteries that occupy two sides of the road, though 175,000 people are buried in plots created by West Side Chicago synagogues. After 1875, some 300 congregations and other groups bought burial space and fenced it off. Only 15,000 Jews live in the Western suburbs near the cemeteries.